September 1, 2014

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Browns analysis: Just when you think you know a team …

I’m still trying to get my head around what happened Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The embarrassing loss to the Steelers the week before I understand. I’ve seen it dozens of times. The Browns were outclassed, outplayed and outworked.
But the 51-45 win over the Bengals was new territory. The Browns never play a game that exciting. They seldom win a game they’re not supposed to. They rarely leave the home fans smiling.
This time the Browns did all three. And that gave fans hope, which is priceless.

Stars shine

Next to the win, the best thing to come from Sunday’s game was the performance by the stars.
Braylon Edwards looked like an elite receiver, catching eight passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Kellen Winslow ran free down the middle of the field for six catches, 100 yards and a touchdown. And Jamal Lewis showed he still has the big-play ability that used to torment the Browns, rushing for 216 yards, including runs of 66, 47 and 31.
When general manager Phil Savage and coach Romeo Crennel talk about the “ability” on the team — and they’ve done that a lot lately — these are three of the guys to whom they’re referring. And when they combine for 462 yards, the Browns look like a real NFL offense.

D.A. leads the way

Of course, a quarterback is necessary for the weapons to receive the ball. Derek Anderson filled that void — for at least one week.
Anderson blocked out the sight of Brady Quinn in his rear-view mirror and played the game of his life. He took advantage of Cincinnati’s porous coverage and made a plethora of great throws.
I’ve always recognized the quality of Anderson’s arm, but questioned his decision-making and consistency. His performance vs. the Bengals gives him at least another week — more likely three — to show it wasn’t a fluke.
To show he can go more than a half without throwing a dumb interception. To show his accuracy isn’t as fleeting as a Detroit Tigers lead at Jacobs Field.
If Anderson can string a few good games together, he would allow the Browns to take their time with Quinn. He would also give the veterans a reason to believe this season is meaningful and not just about preparing Quinn for the future.
I’m not convinced Anderson will ever be anything more than a guy with big feet and a lot of potential, but this is his best shot to prove me wrong.

Goodbye, Charlie

Speaking of quarterbacks, I’d be remiss if I didn’t comment on the trade last week of Charlie Frye to the Seattle Seahawks.
Anderson’s career day vs. Cincinnati makes the deal look good, but the entire Frye situation could’ve been handled better. He never had a legitimate chance to succeed here, then left as the scapegoat for the debacle on opening day.
Frye’s a hard worker with good mobility and an average arm. He needs to be in the right system and circumstances to be successful, and those were never made available here.
In his first two years, he was saddled with a bad offensive line and an inflexible and ineffective offensive coordinator in Maurice Carthon. This year, he had to beat out Anderson with Quinn lurking. His confidence was gone, and that showed vs. the Steelers.
Frye will never be Peyton Manning, but given the chance he’ll develop into a solid backup capable of taking over a team for a long stretch and winning some games. When all is said and done, Frye will have a better career than Anderson.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.